Abstract

New geologic and paleomagnetic data from Knight Inlet in the southwestern Coast Mountains Batholith, British Columbia, support significant revision to the paleogeography of the Insular and Intermontane terranes. Recompilation of radiometric ages confirms that after 100 Ma, a magmatic arc migrated northeastward across the Coast Mountains Batholith at ∼2 km/m.y. Magmatic age patterns suggest that plutons older than 100 Ma intruded the Intermontane terrane, not the expected Insular terrane. The distribution of brittle faults along Knight Inlet defines a structurally intact central domain, ∼45 km wide, flanked to the SW and NE by faulted domains, with no evidence of the widespread Tertiary extension affecting the batholith farther north. Al-in-hornblende geobarometry yields emplacement depths of ∼2.5–4 kbar and does not reveal systematic postemplacement tilting. Plutons in the central structural domain yield a consistently oriented paleomagnetic remanence presumably acquired as the Late Cretaceous arc cooled from ca. 110 to 85 Ma. In the absence of recognizable tilting, this result indicates ∼1700 km of northward translation since ca. 85 Ma, which is significantly less than predicted for the Insular terrane in the “Baja British Columbia” model but similar to results from the Intermontane terrane. The pluton ages and the paleomagnetic results suggest that the Intermontane terrane, not the Insular terrane, underlies the southwestern flank of the Coast Mountains Batholith. This conclusion is compatible with a paleogeographic model in which the Vancouver Island fragment of Wrangellia was juxtaposed against the Intermontane terrane prior to ca. 120–100 Ma and emplaced in southern British Columbia after ca. 75 Ma.

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